Sex workers are the people who are most affected by the pandemic. For thousands of sex workers, the major source of income has been stopped during the lockdown. The first and second phrase of lockdown is a nightmare for them. There is no sufficient food to eat, the children were cut off from school due to the lack of devices. A sex worker who earned rupees 500 to 1000 per day before the pandemic, she hasn’t earned a single penny since March. They are struggling with their financial needs.
The government helps them with some relief funds, but that seems to nothing for them. Each day they are having their meal and worrying for the next day. Many sex workers hide their names due to the stigma attached to their work and don’t have proper documentation they don’t get the benefits of relief funds and the rations supplied by the government. The NGOs like SANGRAM, AINSW and so no help them a lot by food supplies, utilities, providing sanitary napkins, and other essentialities.
Due to lack of food, many sex workers returned to their home states. According to the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW), in Delhi, 60% of them went to their homes. There’s a case study: Shalini, a sex worker on Delhi's famous G B Road, now renamed Swami Shradhanand Marg, moved back to her village in Uttar Pradesh after living for eight years in Delhi. “I wanted to be an actress but got into prostitution to survive in this city. After getting into this business (sex trade), at least I was not struggling for food. I was not on the streets. But ever since the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown, I have zero customers and money is drying up,” the 26 – year – old said.
How sex workers are keeping afloat during covid
By the time, slowing they are adapting to the pandemic. Some of them shifted to alternative sources of income by selling vegetables, fruits, flowers, working as a main in nearby houses, having a tea stall, and more. Others choose the way of technology to earn and for maintaining social distancing. They use their mobiles and have internet sex on a video call. Later they found there’s a risk on video calls of being recorded and get leaked, so they start to complete their works on calls, conference calls, and chats. For high demands, they have to cover their faces.
At the end of May, when the restrictions of lockdown are loosened slightly sex workers returned to their activities. The NGOs help them by doing camping in their areas and teach them how to take precautions about covid. Use sanitizers, check temperatures of every client, always use a mask while they are going outside. Sex workers are maintaining all the norms to fight against Coronavirus.